Since parting ways with Corporate Thugz Entertainment the lyricist is getting more money, shows and notoriety
Fresh off the plane from Dublin, Ireland, Freddie Gibbs entered the President hotel in Helsinki, Finland with his expecting girlfriend, manager, DJ and entourage. Although tired from a sleepless trek through Europe for the Lord Fredrick tour, the entire crew is visually excited at the opportunity to conquer another country.
In need of a nap and a backwoods, Freddie sits comfortably in the lobby before preparing to take the Tavastia stage in Helsinki, that same night. He opens up about authenticity in rap, his hopes of winning a Grammy and what the Indiana spitter has in store for his worldwide fan base,
YOU’RE IN EUROPE. WHAT HAS THE LORD FREDRICK TOUR BEEN LIKE FOR YOU? I think that a lot of these fans out here are really appreciative of the fact that I can really rap. That’s the reason why I do so well over here in Europe, because Europe kind of has an old-school mind state when it comes to rap. They definitely support the emcee. They want to see you put on a real rap show. I give them what they want.
HOW DIFFERENT IS THE FAN BASE IN EUROPE? I definitely have a cult following. So to be a part of this ESGN cult, we’re all one in the same. I don’t look at it from a geographical standpoint. I just look at it like I’m thankful. It’s still surprising to wake up and be in these countries, because I know what I was doing five years ago and it really wasn’t this. So I’m thankful. I’ve come a long way as a rapper, a businessman and a man. I’m expecting a child. I have a baby on the way. I just look at things from a different perspective and I’m glad that I’ve built my catalogue and fan base the way that I have, because no one can match my story. I have a story in the streets and I have a story within this music industry. I’m just blessed to be here, because a lot of people wrote me off. A lot of people told me to stop.
BECAUSE IT WAS SO AUTHENTIC AND THEY DIDN’T SEE YOU AS THAT INDUSTRY MACHINE? Definitely. It’s like I’m building a machine on my own.
SO, WHAT DOES AUTHENTICITY IN RAP MEAN IN 2014? I just think you’ve got to be authentic in life. I definitely understand that it’s show business and things have to get done for the show. So I get it, but I just feel like it pours through. All I know how to do is capture the street essence of the music. The grassroots. That’s what I come from… I have to speak on that. I have to speak on my experiences within this industry. Me, I kind of let it all hang out. I let my strengths show, as well as my vulnerability. I think that’s what authenticity to me is. It’s relating to the listener. Not the fact that you sold 20 bricks. I could care less. We’ve all sold drugs. Being authentic in rap doesn’t mean being a drug dealer anymore or a thug or a killer. Drake ain’t none of that and he’s the best rapper… He’s like the Jay-Z of our generation. There’s always going to be characters in hip-hop. There’s guys that are going to be full of bologna. I stay true to what I do and never stray away from that and I’m going to be around for the next 20 to 30 years.
SO SPEAKING OF AUTHENTICITY. YOUR ALBUM PINATA HAS BEEN DEBATED AS THE ALBUM OF THE YEAR SO FAR BY MANY INDUSTRY VOICES. OBVIOUSLY YOU WANTED TO PUT OUT A GREAT PROJECT, BUT IS THAT WHERE YOU PICTURED IT BEING? When I put it out, I wanted it to be Grammy nominated. Honestly, the person that inspired me the most, this will come out of left field, but Macklemore. When he and Ryan Lewis won their Grammy, I just felt like the world opened up to something different and that shit is totally different. He’s talking about being gay on that shit. I can’t f*cking relate to that. But I can respect it. I can respect the point where he was coming from and how he did what he did. That also took a new sense and a new level of maturity for me to respect it, because 19-year-old Freddie Gibbs would have looked at him like, “What’s going on? Why are they giving a Grammy to this? I quit. I don’t even wanna do rap no more.”
AND A LOT OF PEOPLE WERE PISSED OFF. Yeah, a lot of people were. But I think it opened people up to something new and different, and showed that the Grammys could go left field as well. The Grammys just hit me up and asked me if I was a member of the committee so I signed up for that and I’m going to vote for myself. Hopefully I get nominated. Now I’m a member of the Grammy-voting committee.
WELL, AS FAR AS THIS YEAR, IN TERMS OF HIP HOP, WHO ARE YOUR CONTENDERS? Honestly, you know what? The type of album that I did, I don’t think nobody can actually contend with it. I think that it’s in its own lane. The purpose of doing that was to set myself apart from the rest of the governing body of rap… I just wanted to do Freddie Gibbs. This was the project that I felt like putting out. I wanted to get a lot of things off my chest and Madlib provided the perfect canvas for me to do that. I looked at working on that album like I was sharpening my sword. A lyrical exercise. I never really made songs like that, but to do that and do it with perfection, I think that put me in a place that having a platinum single on a major label couldn’t put me. This album put me somewhere in hip-hop where I will stay forever, as opposed to a guy that might get signed tomorrow, have a hit tomorrow and then might be gone in a week. At the end of the day, I’ve solidified my place and that was my intention.
SO YOUR NEXT PROJECT, EASTSIDE SLIM, HOW’S THAT COMING ALONG? I think that’s going to be a mixtape before I put out Lifestyles of the Insane, which is going to be the title of the album.
BUT YOU’RE PLANNING TO STILL PUT THAT OUT THIS YEAR? Yeah, I might put it out around Christmas or something as the mixtape and I’ll put Lifestyles of the Insane out, that’s going to come in the spring.
I’m older so I’ve grown; I’ve seen things and been through things at 19 that guys haven’t been through. I’m in the middle now… I just want to show people that just because you’re black and from the ghetto, you don’t have to fall into the basket of stereotypes. You can be whatever you want to be.
BECAUSE ORIGINALLY, EASTSIDE SLIM WAS GOING TO BE THE NEXT ALBUM. It was going to be the next album, but I got to working on so much different shit. I did like three to four albums worth of material and now I gotta divide it up and put it out in the right places at the right spots, but I’m definitely going to put that Eastside Slim project out as a tape. I did Gangsta Grillz with DJ Drama with “BFK” so I might hit Drama up and maybe go that route again. We’re going to keep it moving. Lifestyles of the Insane album, that’s going to be a real big record for me; I’m going to have a big radio push behind it and things of that nature. Everything’s going well. The day I left CTE (Corporate Thugz Entertainment), everything that I had planned has happened the way I wanted it. I’m getting more money, more notoriety, more shows. I can’t complain whatsoever. I appreciate every breath and every moment.
YOU SAID YOU SOLIDIFIED YOUR PLACE AND SHARPENED YOUR SWORD WITH PINATA, SO WHAT STORIES CAN WE EXPECT NEXT? I’m definitely going to be speaking from a different standpoint on my album. I’ve never really spoken from a father standpoint. Like I said, I have a child on the way. That’s definitely going to change the way that I look at things. It’s my first child.
BOY OR GIRL? I don’t know yet. When I get off this tour, I’m going to know though. But I’m definitely going to be speaking from different perspectives. I’m older so I’ve grown; I’ve seen things and been through things at 19 that guys haven’t been through. I’m in the middle now. I’m still young enough to get advice from the OGs, but I’m old enough to steer my own direction and steer other guys in a certain direction as well. I just want to show people that just because you’re black and from the ghetto, you don’t have to fall into the basket of stereotypes. You can be whatever you want to be.
Interview By. Samantha O’Connor + Photos Courtesy of Place + Faces